Mauricio Pochettino breaks silence on new set-piece coach arrival 

Chelsea boss Pochettino open up on Bernardo Cueva arrival and Chelsea set-piece role

Mauricio Pochettino could be on a potential collision course with Chelsea’s owners over their decision to appoint Bernardo Cueva and insists he will decide if the incoming set-piece coach will stand on the touchline.

The Blues have agreed to pay around £750,000 in compensation to Brentford and will task Cueva with building a new set-piece department at the club.

Until now, Chelsea have not had a specialist set-piece coach, with goalkeeper coach Toni Jimenez taking the lead, and Pochettino previously played down the importance of such a role.

But Chelsea are one of few teams in the Premier League without a dedicated coach for the role, with the likes of Arsenal’s Nicolas Jover and Aston Villa’s Austin MacPhee very visible, very vocal presences on the touchline, often shouting instructions before set-pieces.

While Pochettino insists he is supportive of Cueva’s appointment, the idea was not his and the Argentine is adamant it will be his decision over whether or not the set-piece coach plays an active role during games.

‘I am the head coach and I am going to decide if some people are going to be with me or not, or if I’m going to add more people or not to the touchline,’ said Pochettino.

‘Sometimes I work [on them], sometimes Jesus Perez [his assistant], does. We are a coaching staff who work already on set-pieces. We are not only working in the gym or the tactical area.’

He continued: ‘[Cueva’s arrival] is the idea of the owner and sporting directors and we are very supportive.

‘We are aware the club want to create a global area about set pieces to reinforce the two people here. If some people come here to add their knowledge and to help us and to be better, very welcome. We cannot go against the things that can help us to be better and to maybe help us to win games.’

Speaking just last month, Pochettino had questioned the value of specialist set-piece coaches, saying: ‘We work a lot on set-pieces. After that, it is about the quality of the player. It is about the takers.

‘We don’t have a specialist. Maybe Chilly [Ben Chilwell] is good in the delivery but after that, we don’t have a specialist. If you want to be good at set-pieces, we work a lot. But then you need good takers.

When you have good takers, and of course, Wolves have good takers, and like Manchester City have or other clubs. It is not down to the work. We work similarly. But the problem is to have good takers.

‘We have specialists [coaches]. We are a coaching staff in charge of everything. You can have a specialist and you can promote the specialist. Or you can have the specialist and not promote the specialist. It depends how you want to sell the idea of working on set-pieces.

‘We have a specialist, we have a group of analysts for set-pieces, we have the coaching staff and we work a lot. And then it is about the quality. At the moment, we were talking about trying to find a good specialist [player] for next season.

‘Look before at West Ham and after. What changed? After and before? It’s not the same. The taker is [James] Ward-Prowse. Or he is Pochettino, no? Prowsey is a much better taker than me. For sure, you can work, like West Ham were working. But now, you add a player like him, you increase the percentage. That is football. Football belongs to the players. Not to the specialists.’

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